By Matt Meltzer - Thrillist
“A house by the beach" sounds like one of those painfully unobtainable luxuries, like an Aston Martin or NFL season tickets or a post-12th grade education in America. Big, sexy coastal communities have astronomical housing prices, true -- but that doesn't mean you, the average citizen trying to scratch together $1,000 a month to live with a roommate, can't legitimately afford one. And not on a beach in Barrow, Alaska, either.
In the Southeast -- and in parts of the Pacific Northwest -- a number of cities boast beautiful coastline, white sand, and surprisingly affordable housing. SmartAsset crunched some data, factoring in median home prices, home size, property taxes, and annual housing cost (mortgage, insurance, taxes, etc.) to find which beach towns are the overall cheapest. After a few winters of shoveling snow with your bare hands, these look pretty inviting. Below we count down 17 of the cheapest, culminating with the overall most affordable beach town in America.
6. Ocean Springs, Mississippi
Median home price: $151,500
The artsy, quintessentially Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast leads the nation in affordable beach cities, with four towns landing in the top 10. Of those cities, Ocean Springs is the beachiest. There you can wander over from your sub-$150K home to the bars of Government Street, where live music fills the air every weekend. Closer to the coast you're a short boat ride from the turquoise waters of the barrier islands, a big part of why this isn't just one of the cheapest beach towns in America, it's one of the best beach towns, period.
5. Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
Median home price: $161,300
Bay St. Louis is best described as Sausalito on the Bayou. The streets are lined with art galleries, antique shops, and pay-what-you-want restaurants, and the people are mostly artists drawn to the Cajun vibe of nearby New Orleans. Speaking of the Big Easy, commuters to that city often buy homes here, both to save money and live in a quirky, creative town that hugs the Gulf of Mexico. It's altogether a cheaper play than you'd find on San Francisco Bay.
3. Biloxi, Mississippi
Median home price: $149,100
Unlike its trademark casinos, Biloxi isn't just dangling affordable house prices like big five-bedroom prime rib buffets. This Southern party town is affordable even without free drinks in the casinos, with only $1,012 a year in property taxes and less than $10,000 a year in housing costs. Pretty impressive for a city that's risen from the destruction of Hurricane Katrina to become one of the most popular destinations in the region. And even off the strip, the city has fantastic access to beaches and wilderness along the Pascagoula River.
1. Gulfport, Mississippi
Median home price: $116,200
Don't sleep on Mississippi's second-largest city -- one of America's most underappreciated that happens to be a great place to live. Its once-downtrodden downtown has come back to life as young residents have moved back and brought with them a new energy, weekend block parties, and one of the state's best breweries in Chandeleur. To further enrich downtown, the city opened an alley in the model of Cleveland's East Fourth Street, closed to traffic and lined with bars and restaurants for people to enjoy the coastal sunshine as they sip. When it's time to check out Biloxi, the 27 miles of unobstructed beachfront along the way make for one of the most scenic drives in America
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